Bill White is still running for the U.S. Senate, according to aides and to White himself, in response to a flurry of weekend rumors that he's switching to the race for governor.
The rumors, apparently emanating from the Rick Perry and John Sharp camps [see the update below], are that the Houston mayor has been talking to political trial lawyers and to union ops about moving from the race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate to the race for governor. Another version has him making the move as early as Monday.
The logic of that is that Hutchison's decision to quit has been delayed to the point where it makes sense to look for other opportunities, and that the Democrats already in the race for governor have failed to lock down the sort of support — in terms of money or people — that it takes to win a statewide race.
White's available. There's a vacuum. Badabing, badaboom.
White advisor Michael Moore said Saturday evening it ain't so. "He's running for Senate," he emailed.
White spokeswoman Katy Bacon followed with a more complete version: "Thanks for getting in touch. No, there's nothing to the rumor. Bill's running for Senate, period. Not going to switch."
And this morning, when a blogger posted the question, he got a Twitter response from the mayor: "Well, the rumors aren't true. Bill." To another, who repeated that Tweet: "Not true. Bill White."
The noise lets Perry raise questions about whether Hutchison is serious about the governor's race. The spin from his friends is that White wouldn't do this if he thought Kay was still in the running; if White was making a switch, or even thinking about it, that would be evidence that Hutchison is out.
From the Sharp camp, it simply would remove the most serious Democratic competitor from the race to replace Hutchison in a special election. And the rumor — even without confirmation — is the sort of thing that can be played back for potential supporters to raise questions about whether White is serious about the Senate race.
[update] Sharp says this didn't start with his folks, that he heard it out of Houston — and from another of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates — and made some inquiries, but didn't try to spread the story.